D. C. Jarvis

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Jarvis on December 1, 1959

DeForest Clinton Jarvis (March 15, 1881 – August 18, 1966) was an American physician from Vermont. He is best known for his writings on the subject of folk medicine. He recommended a mixture of whole, raw apple cider vinegar and honey that have variously been called switchel or honegar, as a health tonic.[1][2] He promoted the use of vinegar to keep the acidity of the body more acidic than alkaline, which he believed treated medical problems like burns and varicose veins.[3]


Jarvis was born in Plattsburg, New York into a fifth-generation Vermont family and grew up in Burlington, Vermont. His parents were George Jarvis and Abbie Vincent. He graduated from the University of Vermont Medical College in 1904, and began practicing medicine in Barre, Vermont in 1909.

Jarvis's wife was named Pearl Macomber, and they had a daughter, Sylvia Jarvis Smith (b. June 29, 1914, d. December 27, 2009),[4] who graduated from the University of Vermont in 1936.[5][6] His hobbies included making jewelry and playing the cello, and he managed a children's orchestra for 22 years.[7]

Jarvis's 1958 book Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor's Guide to Good Health.[2] The book was on The New York Times Best Seller list for two years, ultimately selling over one million copies, more than 245,000 copies in a single year, and was still in print as of 2002. Wrote one reviewer, "Pliny, the ancient Roman originator of the doctrine of signatures, used honey and vinegar to cleanse the system and promote good health. D. C. Jarvis, M.D. in Folk Medicine has re-popularized the use of honey and apple cider vinegar in modern times."[8] More recently, modern science has begun to revisit some of his claims about vinegar,[9] particularly with respect to diabetes, weight loss and insulin resistance.[10]

He died at the Girouard Nursing Home in South Barre, Vermont, at the age of 85. The cause of death was a chronic kidney infection, coupled with cerebral thrombosis and arteriosclerosis.[11]


After his death in 1966, Jarvis's office was dismantled and shipped to the Shelburne Museum, where it was reconstructed and is still displayed, as an example of a small-town Vermont doctor's office.


  • Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor's Guide to Good Health (1958). New York: Holt. ISBN 978-1447446378
  • Arthritis and Folk Medicine (1960). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.


  1. ^ D.C. Md Jarvis (May 12, 1985). Folk Medicine: A New England Almanac of Natural Health Care from a Noted Vermont Country Doctor. Fawcett Publications. ISBN 978-0-449-20880-9. 
  2. ^ a b "Folk Medicine". Time magazine. December 28, 1959. Retrieved 2010-02-24. Dr. Jarvis prescribes vinegar (always the apple-cider variety, raw and unfiltered) for all comers. The vinegar can be taken straight or diluted in water. But for maximum efficacy, he insists that it be mixed with honey—a sort of sweet-'n'-sour, yang-and-yin combination. 
  3. ^ Fry, Ann Lyons (2003). The Vermont Encyclopeida. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England. p. 170. ISBN 1-58465-086-9. 
  4. ^ "Vermost Quarterly: 1930s 1940s". The University of Vermont. 2003-12-31. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  5. ^ Sylvia Jarvis Smith. "Of Severed Fingers, Silicosis, and Stethoscopes". Jcrows.com. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  6. ^ "The UVM Connection > Distinguished Service Award Winners". The University of Vermont. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Dr. Jarvis's Great Switchel Revival". Vermont Life. 1960. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  8. ^ The Natural Farmer, Vol. 2, No. 45, p. 14 Summer, 2000
  9. ^ J Engelmann. The Wonders of Apple Cider Vinegar, Horizon
  10. ^ CS Johnston, CA Gaas. Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect, MedGenMed, 8(2): 61. May 30, 2006.
  11. ^ "Dr. D.C. Jarvis, Author of 'Folk Medicine,' Dead; Vermont Physician's '58 Book Sold Over a Million He Stressed Curative Value of Vinegar and Honey". The New York Times. August 19, 1966. Retrieved 2010-02-24. Dr. D. C. Jarvis of this community, author of the best-selling book 'Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor's Guide to Good Health,' died today at a nursing home in South Barre. His age was 85. He had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage earlier this year. 

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